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Trouble With Dodge Grand Caravan



  • clochaseclochase Posts: 4
    Last month I traded in the old '93 Buck Century Wagon for a one-year old Dodge Grand Caravan (2000). The wife had her heart set on the Van, and I couldn't talk her into another Wagon, and those choices were limited anyway.

    Before buying I did extensive research on the "transmission" problem. In discussing the issue with various Caravan/Voyager owners, and doing some independent reading, it appears that use of incorrect transmission fluid may be at least part of the problem. Many people I spoke with had problems after they had had the transmission fluid changed, generally by independent shops (not Chrysler Dealers). All Chrysler vehicles after 1991 take special Chrysler AFT, either Type 3 or (after 1999) Type 4 "9602" synthetic. Most independent shops use one type, Dexron which is not compatible with the Chrysler trans.
    My recommendation is that you really pay attention to getting the transmission serviced, and don't wait until the recommended 48000 miles to get it done. I would do it every 15000 miles or one year, whichever comes first. Remember only about half the fluid drains because you can't get at the stuff that's in the torque converter. All the more reason for frequent fluid changes, and be sure to change the filter at the same time. Make sure you get the right fluid. Chrysler ATF3 is available in the after market, AT4 can only be purchased at a Chrysler Dealer. Taking the vehicle to Chrysler is no guarantee that the right fluid will be used. I have always done my own maintenance, and when I went to purchase the fluid for my 2000 Caravan, they handed me ATF3. I had to tell the parts guy that ATF4 is required.

    Using the correct fluid and frequent changes may not cure all that's wrong potentially with this AT unit, but certainly it should cut down on the number of transmission failure complaints.
  • edgarmacedgarmac Posts: 6
    I just saw message #146 asking if anyone has not had these problems. I have an 89 GC which I bought new, now has 125000 miles. Have had no A/C or trans problems.
  • rpfundstrpfundst Posts: 7
    I have a '93 Grand Caravan LE that has never had significant tranny problems. I have a great mechanic that showed me a technical service bulletin that specified that only Chrysler (mopar) trans fluid is to be used in the 4-speed auto tranny. I had a slight shutter like a wheel was out of balance when the tranny was trying to shift around 45mph. The van had around 40,000 miles. My mechanic said the tranny fluid was the problem. He serviced the tranny (changed fluid and new filter) -- no more shutter. He told me the tranny is the Achilles Heal of these vans but problems can be avoided by regular preventive maintenance ( it's also a lot cheaper than a new tranny!!). Seems Automatics are now being designed along with their required fluids. The days of using Dextron in every thing except Fords ( they had their own version early on) are over!!
  • clochaseclochase Posts: 4
    Back again: I bought the AFT+4 on Monday, and I just changed the fluid: a real pain because this unit uses TV gasket sealer instead of a real gasket, so you have to scrape the old stuff off, etc. etc.
    Anyway, to all those people who don't do anything to the trans and then complain when it craps out at 50-70K, you wouldn't want to see what I found in the pan after only 24K. Throw the owner's manual away: if you either "never" (Normal Service) change the fluid, or do it at "48000 miles" (Severe Service), you are kidding yourself, and setting yourself up for transmission failure. It should be done every 15K or one year, whichever comes first, period. The gun I got out of the pan at 24K convinced me of that--the magnet in the bottom of the pay was completely covered with carp, and the filter was too. It looked like the filter hadn't done its job for at least 5000K.
    The dealer I bought the car from recommends the 15000 mile interval. Of course he wants the service revenue, but it just makes sense to do the service. It's not cheap. I did it myself, and it cost me $46 for the ATF4 and $8.95 for the filter. If you pay to have it done, my Dealer charges $90.00, but I would rather do it myself, because I know that the correct juice is going in, and I will take the time to thoroughly clean the pan, magnet, etc., and I will not overfill the transmission the way so many shops do.
    So that's my recommendation, and hopefully it will help to avoid the costly repair/replacements that so many have experienced with this otherwise fine vehicle.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    I know it is overkill, but I change the fluid and filter every 10K miles, considering that about 1/2 to 2/3rds gets changed if one drops the pan.

    Yes, there is enough gunk to cover the pan magnet even at 10k miles.

    clochase: Yes the RTV sealant is a pain to clean off. There is a new rubberized gasket that is reusable and comes off very easily. Try it next time. There is a TSB out on it with a part number which I forget, but any dealer will know.

    Since both you and I are changing at what others would regard as very short intervals, why not go for the much cheaper ATF+3 fluids rather than the dealer only semi-synthetic ATF+4?
  • I'm looking at a 92' AC with 83k. The lowest the seller is willing to go is $4,000. When looking over the vehicle I noticed a drop of fresh oil on a NEW oil pan. The vehicle stalled once while turning around in a driveway on the test drive (started back up like nothing happened and ran great), and besides a small squeak in the front right tire area and a bit of surface rust under the rear window, the vehicle is in great shape. Should I be concerned about any of this? Anything I should be looking for? Or should I just realize I'm buying a nine year old vehicle.
  • sanguine2sanguine2 Posts: 1
    I just bought a '97 Dodge Grand Caravan SE with 36,000 miles on it. The trans makes a strange noise when changing gears. For instance, when you first put it in drive or reverse, it makes a creaking noise. Even when diving the trans makes the same noise when shifting. It's not terribly loud. In fact, I only hear it when the windows are open. Not sure if this is a warning sign or not. What do you think?
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 400
    Our 97 Caravan with 80K miles, has developed this annoying problem since yesterday morning.

    I went to start it yesterday morning. The starter made ONE click noise and stopped. It was not the click-click-click noise. Just one click. The battery posts are clean and tight. The lights intensity is normal.

    After several attempts, it started OK and the remaining of the day with about 7 shut off and starts, it did fine.

    It did it again this morining, and then started.

    Is it the Battery or starter selonoid? How can I tell? I am planning on using a jumper cable tomorrow morning, and try to jump start it. I guess if it starts with jump start, it is the battery.

    But is there anything in the system that could drain the battery ovenight enough that won't start the car?
  • keith944tkeith944t Posts: 3
    I'm posting this for a friend who is (seriously) considering purchasing a '98 Grand Caravan SE AWD

    We would appreciate any input at all, but are interested in how effective the AWD system is.
    We are aware it is not an "off-road" design, but are looking for something that can get up a long steep blacktop driveway with two sharp curves in a couple inches of snow.

    My Dodge Stratus says NO with just a dusting while my '95 Suzuki Sidekick will go right up in RWD, but that's another story!

    Also curious about "real life" gas mileage, mostly hiway. EPA number says 24 MPG hiway, 18 city.

    Vehicle has 30K miles, they want $15K.
    Any thoughts?


    By the way, I wouldn't reccomend using the spell checker!
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    AWD will help with traversing the driveway, but do not buy an AWD DaimlerChrysler van without an extended warranty to cover at least the powertrain - the 2WD versions of these are hardly paragons of reliability, and the AWD versions are more expensive to repair when the problems occur.
  • I just purchased this van and I am already having problems with it. Problem 1. My van will ocassionally make a sound like I have just run over something. It tends to happen in a series. It will do it anywhere from 5-20 times in an hour and then it may not make the same sound for another 4 hours. It happens mostly after pressing down on the gas harder but not always. Problem 2. On 6 or 7 other ocassions the car would feel as though I had the emergency break down when I would press down on the gas peddle after a stop sign or stop light. I would have to drive a couple hundred yards before the car would jerk and move with out resistance. I very seldom use an emergency break so this was not the case in any of the situations. Last problem on one occasion I went to center myself in a parking space and the engine made a loud squeal in forward and reverse. Can anyone help me trouble shoot? I only have a 3,000 mile warranty. The dealer ship said they have never heard any sounds and we are leaving on vacation in 4 days and I will have used up all my miles. Thanks
  • yawbusyawbus Posts: 2
    According to all the news reports, the 2001 Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravans leaked gas during crash tests. Even though the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that any fuel leak can be a serious problem because of the threat of fire, Daimler Chrysler refuses to recall them. The Institute even retested the Caravans after manufacturers objected to the first results, and the minivans peformed worse in subsequent tests according to Associated Press.

    This demands a recall, and if people want to contact the President of Daimler Chrysler in the U.S. he is:

    Dieter Zetsche
    Daimler Chrysler Corp.
    Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766

    Phone Number: 248-576-5741
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 400
    I wrote message#159 for no strart with cold engine. The problem was the starter. The van did it again in a National park in the middle of no where with our camper and everything. I used handle of a 3/8" ratchet and tapped the body of the starter to get it to start.

    When I got home, I took the starter off, and had it rebuilt for $52!! NAPA wanted $218 for a rebuilt one. The starter is located in the front, by the oil filter, and it is held with two 15mm hex bolts. One at the bottom, and one on top. To reach the top one, you have to remove air cleaner top chamber, remove exhust shield bolts, and slightly bend out the way the shield, and using a
    mirror, see the top bolt and remove it. You need a 15mm open wrench to loosen the top one, and a 3/8" universal joint attached to a 15mm socket to turn and remove the top bolt.

    I consider the starter wear very premature. Our 89 mazda MPV with 155K miles that we sold in 97 to buy this van did not give us any mechanical trouble ever.

    This van with 82K miles has required new belt tentioner, transmission selenoid pack, water pump,and a starter. To some of you, this might be a blessing, to me it is not acceptable.

    After all this, I still consider it a good van.; a lot of room, comfortable ride, decent gas mileage, and most of all the best looking van around.
  • alanwagenalanwagen Posts: 28
    I pity the fool that has a Dodge Caravan.
    I had one and it went through 4 trannys. I dumped before I had to start paying. BTW it also blew oil out the tailpipe due to bad valve guides. Even though I used Mobil 1 Synthetic oil.
    What a waste of oil. I DID buy it new too.
    Do not buy a used one.
    After all you are buying someone else's problems.
    Why sell a perfectly good car? Because it is not perfect.
  • rhausjrhausj Posts: 1
    I have a `96 V6 3.0 Liter STD Caravan with 86,000 miles on it. A couple of months ago, the serpentine belt started peeling off one strip at a time. My mechanic has not been able to figure out why this is happening. This will be the fourth belt in 5 months. We thought that replacing the tensioner (after the second replacement) would help, but heard that all too familiar flapping noise from under the hood this morning. I've seen several posts about a locked tensioner, could this be related? Has anyone run into a problem like this? Any advice would be appreciated.
  • My serpentine belt broke at 18,000 mile on 1998, they replaced the belt and tensioner, it broked again yesterday at 43,000 miles. Something must be wrong with this system.
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 400
    There must be something wrong with the alignment of belt tensioner/AC comprtessor/crankshaft pulleys. They all must be in the same plane, if not, the belts will not last. It seems like this is what is happening.
This discussion has been closed.